Our Eyes Can See Colors That Don’t Exist

By Lisa Alletson

Magenta is a trick of the brain 
my sister explains, her hair 
abandoned like a trick of God.

I take her photograph as sunlight 
muscles in on her bald head,
her daughter hugging her legs.

She glances at it, laughs. 
Mom will like this one 
because I look like an angel.

She does, backlit near Durham Cathedral 
fourteen strands of golden hair—
a halo of wisps.

I like numbers, so I walk ahead
to read the date on the Statue of Neptune
between the Kate Spade store

and the old pub, looking back to watch
my sister cross the Elvet Bridge.
Her four kids trail behind her

as a busker sings Elton John,
How wonderful life is 
while you’re in the world.

We fight about who will buy lunch, 
not in a teasing way
but a way that makes her cry

big hard ugly tears. 
Nothing makes her cry,
but her youngest is only five.

And I cry too, because this
is the fourth last time I 
will see her.

Lisa Alletson grew up in South Africa and England, and now lives in Canada. Her work is published or forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Crab Creek Review, Gone Lawn, Milk Candy Review, Bending Genres, CLOVES, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Moist Poetry Journal among others. She writes on Twitter @LotusTongue.

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